Best Children's Books About Historical figures

The Best 34 Children's Books About Historical Figures

Updated Apr. 23, 2019

David McCullough, a renowned author and historian, has said, "History is who we are and why we are the way we are." There are so many people and events in history that have shaped the world and who we are today. Many of these people are inspiring and admirable examples, and we've gathered up our favorite children's books about these historical figures to inspire your little ones. After all, they are the future and will help build upon the history for those who come later.

Courageous People Who Changed the World book
#26
Courageous People Who Changed the World
Written by Heidi Poelman and illustrated by Kyle Kershner
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-5

From the intrepid efforts of Susan B. Anthony to the quiet courage of Rosa Parks, Little Heroes: Courageous People Who Changed the World is a young child's first introduction to the brave people who fought to make the world a better place. Simple text and adorable illustrations tell the contributions of eight champions of freedom: Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Malala Yousafzai, Harriet Tubman, William Wilberforce, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. A quote from each individual is included on each spread along with colorful, delightful artwork.

Herstory book
#27
Herstory
Written by Katherine Halligan and illustrated by Sarah Walsh
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Move aside history—it’s time for herstory. Celebrate fifty inspiring and powerful women who changed the world and left their mark in this lavishly illustrated biography compilation that’s perfect for fans of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and She Persisted. Throughout history, girls have often been discussed in terms of what they couldn’t or shouldn’t do. Not anymore. It’s time for herstory—a celebration of not only what girls can do, but the remarkable things women have already accomplished, even when others tried to stop them. In this uplifting and inspiring book, follow the stories of fifty powerhouse women from around the world and across time who each managed to change the world as they knew it forever. Telling the stories of their childhood, the challenges they faced, and the impact of their achievements, each lavishly illustrated spread is a celebration of girl power in its many forms. From astronauts to activists, musicians to mathematicians, these women are sure to motivate young readers of all backgrounds to focus not on the can’ts and shouldn’ts, but on what they can do: anything!

Stories for boys who dare to be different book
#28
Stories for boys who dare to be different
Written and illustrated by Ben Brooks
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Boys can be anything they want to be! This timely book joins and expands the gender-role conversation and gives middle-grade boys a welcome alternative message: that masculinity can mean many things. You won't find any stories of slaying dragons or saving princesses here. In Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different, author Ben Brooks-with the help of Quinton Wintor's striking full-color illustrations-offers a welcome alternative narrative: one that celebrates introverts and innovators, sensitivity and resilience, individuality and expression. It's an accessible compilation of 75 famous and not-so-famous men from the past to the present day, every single one of them a rule-breaker and stereotype-smasher in his own way. Entries include Frank Ocean, Salvador Dali, Beethoven, Barack Obama, Ai Weiwei, Jesse Owens, and so many more-heroes from all walks of life and from all over the world.

Rad American Women A-Z book
#29
Rad American Women A-Z
Written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-16

"Profiled are 26 American women from the 18th through 21st centuries, who have made-or are still making--history as artists, writers, teachers, lawyers, or athletes. The women come from a variety of economic and ethnic backgrounds and many had to overcome extreme hardships. One woman represents each alphabetical letter beginning with Angela Davis, an activist, teacher, and writer, and concludes with Zora Neale Hurston, an anthropologist and writer."--Publisher.

George vs George book
#30
George vs George
Written and illustrated by Rosalyn Schanzer
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

There are two sides to every story. Rosalyn Schanzer's engaging and wonderfully illustrated book brings to life both sides of the American Revolution. The narrative introduces anew the two enemies, both named George: George Washington, the man who freed the American colonies from the British, and George III, the British king who lost them. Two leaders on different sides of the Atlantic, yet with more in common than we sometimes acknowledge. We are lead through their story, and the story of their times, and see both sides of the arguments that divided the colonies from the Kingdom. Was King George a "Royal Brute" as American patriots claimed? Or was he, as others believed, "the father of the people?" Was George Washington a scurrilous traitor, as all the king's supporters claimed? Or should we remember and celebrate him as "the father of his country?" Who was right? History teaches us that there are two sides to every story.

Who Was Anne Frank? book
#31
Who Was Anne Frank?
Written by Ann Abramson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Looks closely at Anne Frank's life before the secret annex, what life was like in hiding from the Nazis, and the legacy of her diary.

Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education book
#32
Malala: Activist for Girls’ Education
Written by Raphaele Frier and illustrated by Aurelia Fronty
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Malala Yousafzai stood up to the Taliban and fought for the right for all girls to receive an education. When she was just fifteen-years old, the Taliban attempted to kill Malala, but even this did not stop her activism. At age eighteen Malala became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work to ensure the education of all children around the world. Malala’s courage and conviction will inspire young readers in this beautifully illustrated biography.

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History book
#33
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
Written by Vashti Harrison
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

A NEW YORK TIMES INSTANT BESTSELLER!A USA TODAY BESTSELLER! This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers of all ages to 40 women who changed the world. Featuring forty trailblazing black women in American history, Little Leaders educates and inspires as it relates true stories of breaking boundaries and achieving beyond expectations. Illuminating text paired with irresistible illustrations bring to life both iconic and lesser-known female figures of Black history such as abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman, chemist Alice Ball, politician Shirley Chisholm, mathematician Katherine Johnson, poet Maya Angelou, and filmmaker Julie Dash. Among these biographies, readers will find heroes, role models, and everyday women who did extraordinary things - bold women whose actions and beliefs contributed to making the world better for generations of girls and women to come. Whether they were putting pen to paper, soaring through the air or speaking up for the rights of others, the women profiled in these pages were all taking a stand against a world that didn't always accept them. The leaders in this book may be little, but they all did something big and amazing, inspiring generations to come.

Electric Ben book
#34
Electric Ben
Written and illustrated by Robert Byrd
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A true Renaissance man, Benjamin Franklin was the first American celebrity. In pictures and text, master artist Robert Byrd documents Franklin’s numerous and diverse accomplishments, from framing the Constitution to creating bifocals. The witty, wise, and endlessly curious Franklin is the perfect subject for Byrd’s lively style and vibrant art. The pages pulse with facts, quotes, and captions, while the inventive design and intricately detailed illustrations make a striking tribute to the brilliant American.

Have a suggestion for a book to add to this list? Send an email to [email protected] with your book and list suggestion.